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THE WELL OF ST. KEYNE.
A WELL there is in the west country,
And a clearer one never was seen;
There is not a wife in the west country
But has heard of the well of St. Keyne.
An oak and an elm-tree stand beside.
And behind does an ash-tree grow;
And a willow from the bank above
Droops to the water below.
A traveller came to the well of St. Keyne;
Joyfully he drew nigh,
For from cock-crow he had been travelling,
And there was not a cloud in the sky.
He drank of the water so cool and clear,
For thirsty and hot was he,
And he sat down upon the bank
Under the willow-tree.
There came a man from the neighbouring town At the Well to fill his pail;
On the well-side he rested it,
And he bade the stranger hail.
"Now art thou a bachelor, Stranger? quoth he, "For an if thou hast a wife,
The happiest draught thou hast drunk this day
That ever thou didst in thy life.
"Or has thy good woman, if one thou hast,
Ever here in Cornwall been?
For an if she have, I'll venture my life
She has drank of the Well of St. Keyne."
"I have left a good woman who never was here," The Stranger he made reply,
"But that my draught should be better for that, I pray you answer me why?"
"St. Keyne," quoth the Cornish-man, “many a time Drank of this crystal well,
And before the angel summon'd her,
She laid on the water a spell."
"If the husband of this gifted well
Shall drink before the wife,
A happy man thenceforth is he,
For he shall be master for life.
"But if the wife should drink of it first,-
God help the husband then!"
The Stranger stoop'd to the Well of St Keyne,
And drank of the water again.
"You drank of the well I warrant betimes?"
He to the Cornish-man said:
But the Cornish man smiled as the Stranger spake, And sheepishly shook his head.
"I hasten'd as soon as the wedding was done, And left my wife in the porch;
But i' faith she had been wiser than me,
For she-took a bottle to church."
THOU chronicle of crimes! I read no more;
For I am one who willingly would love
His fellow-kind. O gentle Poesy,
Receive me from the court's polluted scenes,
From dungeon horrors, from the fields of war,
Receive me to your haunts,-that I may nurse
My nature's better feelings, for my soul
Sickens at man's misdeeds!
I spake, when lo!
There stood before me, in her majesty,
Clio, the strong-eyed Muse. Upon her brow
Sate a calm anger. Go, young man, she cried,
Sigh among myrtle-bowers, and let thy soul
Effuse itself in strains so sorrowful sweet,
That love-sick maids may weep upon thy page,
Pleased with delicious sorrow. Oh shame! shame!
Was it for this I waken'd thy young mind?
Was it for this I made thy swelling heart
Throb at the deeds of Greece, and thy boy's eye
So kindle when that glorious Spartan died?
Boy! boy! deceive me not!-What if the tale
Of murder'd millions strike a chilling pang;
What if Tiberius in his island stews,
And Philip at his beads, alike inspire
Strong anger and contempt; hast thou not risen
With nobler feelings,-with a deeper love
For freedom? Yes, if righteously thy soul
Loathes the black history of human crimes
And human misery, let that spirit fill
Thy song, and it shall teach thee, boy! to raise
Such strains as Cato might have deign'd to hear,
As Sidney in his hall of bliss may love.
NAY, gather not that Filbert, Nicholas :
There is a maggot there, it is his house,-
His castle,-oh commit not burglary!
Strip him not naked,-'tis his clothes, his shell,
His bones, the case and armour of his life,
And thou shalt do no murder, Nicholas!
lt were an easy thing to crack that nut
Or with thy crackers or thy double teeth,
So easily may all things be destroy'd!
But 't is not in the power of mortal man
To mend the fracture of a filbert shell.
There were two great men once amused themselves
Watching two maggots run their wriggling race,
And wagering on their speed; but Nick, to us
It were no sport to see the pamper'd worm
Roll out and then draw in his folds of fat,
Like to some barber's leathern powder-bag
Wherewith he feathers, frosts, or cauliflowers
Spruce beau, or lady fair, or doctor grave.
Enough of dangers and of enemies
Hath Nature's wisdom for the worm ordain'd;
Increase not thou the number! Him the mouse,
Gnawing with nibbling tooth the shell's defence
May from his native tenement eject;
Him may the nut-hatch piercing with strong bill
Unwittingly destroy; or to his hoard
The squirrel bear, at leisure to be crack'd.
Man also hath his dangers and his foes
As this poor maggot hath; and when I muse
Upon the aches, anxieties, and fears,
The maggot knows not, Nicholas, methinks
It were a happy metamorphosis
To be enkernell'd thus; never to hear
Of wars, and of invasions, and of plots,
Kings, Jacobins, and Tax-commissioners;
To feel no motion but the wind that shook
The Filbert-tree, and rock'd us to our rest;
And in the middle of such exquisite food
To live luxurious! The perfection this
Of snugness! it were to unite at once
Hermit retirement, Aldermanic bliss,
And Stoic independence of mankind.
METHOUGHT I stood again, at dead of night,
In that rich sepulchre,* viewing alone,
The wonders of the place. My wondering eyes
Rested upon the costly sarcophage
*According to Josephus, the sepulchres of the Kings of Israel were filled with immense treasures. The riches left by David are said to have exceeded 800,000,000l. sterling.
Rear'd in the midst. I saw therein a form
Like David; not as he appears, but young
And ruddy. In his lovely tinctured cheek
The vermil blood look'd pure and fresh as life
In gentle slumber. On his blooming brow
Was bound the diadem. But while I gazed,
The phantom vanish'd, and my father lay there,
As he is now, his head and beard in silver,
Seal'd with the pale fix'd impress of the tomb.
I knelt and wept. But when I thought to kiss
My tears from off his reverend cheek, a voice
Cried, Impious, bold!-and suddenly there stood
A dreadful and refulgent form before me,
Bearing the Tables of the Law.
It spake not, moved not, but still sternly pointed
To one command, which shone so fiercely bright,
It sear'd mine eye-balls. Presently I seem'd
Transported to the desolate wild shore
Of Asphaltites, night, and storm, and fire,
Astounding me with horror. All alone
I wonder'd; but where'er I turn'd my eyes,
On the bleak rocks, or pitchy clouds, or closed them, Flamed that command.
Then suddenly I sunk down, down, methought,
Ten thousand cubits, to a wide
And travell'd way, wall'd to the firmament
On either side, and fill'd with hurrying nations;
Hurrying, or hurried by some spell,
Toward a portentous adamantine gate,
Towering before us to the empyrean.
Beside it Abraham sat, in reverend years
And gracious majesty, snatching his Seed
From its devouring jaws. When I approach'd,
He groan'd forth, Parricide! and stretch'd no aid-
To me alone, of all his children. Then,
What flames, what howling billows caught me,
Like the red ocean of consuming cities,
And shapes most horrid! all, methought, in crowns